TopGear SA’s Top 5 South Africa Specials
There is no doubt that we, as South Africans, love our cars; we build them, modify them and race them. While we produce many vehicles locally, these models are sold all around the world and lack the component of South African authenticity. So here is a list of our favourite vehicles, which were made and loved solely in South Africa.
5. Volkswagen Citi Golf 1.6i Mk1
The Citi Golf is no stranger to our roads, and I can almost guarantee that every single person in the country has either owned one or knows someone who has. They are immensely popular, so it comes as no surprise that we have our own version, the 1.6i Mk1.
Due to the Mk1 popularity, Volkswagen SA thought that it would be fitting to provide the nation with a lightly updated Mk1 to suit the approaching 2000s in style. When the world stopped making the Mk1, we didn’t and continued to produce them until 2009.
4. Ford Sierra XR8
The Ford Sierra is a classic, with passionate fans all around the globe. There is a particularly special version of this popular car, and it was made and sold right here in SA. The XR8 is the product of homologation rules around the Group One Championship. It was designed to take on the Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0-litre and the 745i BMW, and to keep up with the pack, this special Sierra packed a punch.
Knowing that the standard V6 from the XR6 wouldn’t cut the mustard, the only real option Ford had was to stuff the Mustang's V8 into the engine bay. This supplied the Sierra with more than enough power at around 160kW without the use of mechanical components like turbochargers.
3. BMW E30 325iS (Gusheshe)
The 325iS is a car that needs no introduction. The 325iS was another product of racing homologation in 1989. Unfortunately, the E30 M3 was only available in left-hand drive markets, meaning the shipment of such a car to South Africa wasn't feasible.
The 325iS sported a new body kit and a 2.5-litre inline-6 producing a healthy 130kW. This wasn't the end of the story, though, as there was a second and third variation. The first was the Evo I, which made it rather similar to the M3. With a slight power increase to 140kW, aluminium body panels, and upgraded brakes and suspension, the Evo I is still a highly desirable car. The Evo II added another 15kW to the equation.
2. Opel Kadett Superboss GSI 16V
The Superboss is an office favourite here at TopGear SA, and to no surprise, this beast of a hot hatch was also a product of homologation requirements, and only 500 units were made. The Superboss was set to race in the Group N championship, and in order to compete, the GSI needed more power and better handling. This gave us the Superboss.
The Superboss even came with a Limited Slip Differential, but if you wanted a comfortable daily, then the Superboss would have been a tricky beast as it was stripped of niceties like electric windows and air conditioning.
1. BMW E30 333i
The 333i is arguably one of the most iconic BMWs in South Africa. It has a unique name and is one of, if not the rarest, E30 BMWs you can find. The E30 333i is a globally coveted classic that was developed as an alternative to the absence of M3s in South Africa.
Alpina lent a hand in the creation of this car, as it started as a 325i. The engine was then swapped out and replaced with the M39B32 engine, which was found in the 5, 6, and 7 Series 33i models. Alpina then improved a few components for better airflow and performance. They also experimented around with the gear ratios and added other performance extras like improved brakes.
Finally, Alpina added a set of its wheels and upgraded the shocks, making for a car that is both impressive and easy to drive. The 333i was reportedly a better-equipped cruiser than the 325iS, cementing the model's position in history.